Are Alkynyl Spacers in Ancillary Ligands in Heteroleptic Bis(diimine)copper(I) Dyes Beneficial for Dye Performance in Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells?

Molecules. 2020 Mar 27;25(7):1528. doi: 10.3390/molecules25071528.


The syntheses of 4,4'-bis(4-dimethylaminophenyl)-6,6'-dimethyl-2,2'-bipyridine (1), 4,4'-bis(4-dimethylaminophenylethynyl)-6,6'-dimethyl-2,2'-bipyridine (2), 4,4'-bis(4-diphenylaminophenyl)-6,6'-dimethyl-2,2'-bipyridine (3), and 4,4'-bis(4-diphenylaminophenylethynyl)-6,6'-dimethyl-2,2'-bipyridine (4) are reported along with the preparations and characterisations of their homoleptic copper(I) complexes [CuL2][PF6] (L = 1-4). The solution absorption spectra of the complexes exhibit ligand-centred absorptions in addition to absorptions in the visible region assigned to a combination of intra-ligand and metal-to-ligand charge-transfer. Heteroleptic [Cu(5)(Lancillary)]+ dyes in which 5 is the anchoring ligand ((6,6'-dimethyl-[2,2'-bipyridine]-4,4'-diyl)bis(4,1-phenylene))bis(phosphonic acid) and Lancillary = 1-4 have been assembled on fluorine-doped tin oxide (FTO)-TiO2 electrodes in dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs). Performance parameters and external quantum efficiency (EQE) spectra of the DSCs (four fully-masked cells for each dye) reveal that the best performing dyes are [Cu(5)(1)]+ and [Cu(5)(3)]+. The alkynyl spacers are not beneficial, leading to a decrease in the short-circuit current density (JSC), confirmed by lower values of EQEmax. Addition of a co-absorbent (n-decylphosphonic acid) to [Cu(5)(1)]+ lead to no significant enhancement of performance for DSCs sensitized with [Cu(5)(1)]+. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) has been used to investigate the interfaces in DSCs; the analysis shows that more favourable electron injection into TiO2 is observed for sensitizers without the alkynyl spacer and confirms higher JSC values for [Cu(5)(1)]+.

Keywords: 2,2′-bipyridine; alkynyl group; copper; dye-sensitized solar cell; phosphonic acid anchor.

MeSH terms

  • 2,2'-Dipyridyl / chemical synthesis
  • 2,2'-Dipyridyl / chemistry*
  • Alkynes / chemistry
  • Coloring Agents / chemistry*
  • Copper / chemistry*
  • Dielectric Spectroscopy
  • Electrodes
  • Fluorine / chemistry
  • Ligands
  • Phosphorous Acids / chemistry
  • Solar Energy*
  • Tin Compounds / chemistry


  • Alkynes
  • Coloring Agents
  • Ligands
  • Phosphorous Acids
  • Tin Compounds
  • phosphonic acid
  • Fluorine
  • 2,2'-Dipyridyl
  • Copper
  • stannic oxide